The senior guard scored a season-high 29 points to lead North Cobb Christian to a 60-45 victory over Carrollton in a semifinal game at the Lake City Classic on Saturday at Allatoona.
Ware drained six 3-pointers, including five in the first half. He had already posted 10 points in the first quarter as the Eagles led 18-12 at the end of the period, then added another 11 in the second quarter to put the Eagles in front 35-26 at halftime.
“I knew I was feeling good when I hit my first shot,” said Ware, who also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals and was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. “The key for me, though, was to stay within the flow of the game and try not to do too much.
“Fortunately, my teammates kept feeding me the ball. We have guys on this team that can score at any time. It just happened to be me (Saturday) who had the hot hand. When guys get hot, the way I did, we just feed them the ball.”
North Cobb Christian (10-2) advanced to Monday’s Lake City championship, where it will face off with tourney host Allatoona.
The Eagles found themselves in a battle early as they couldn’t break away from Carrollton (6-4). They built upon their six-point first-quarter lead, and Ware’s jumper with 5:38 left in the second quarter gave them a 25-16 margin.
Carrollton’s Jarrell Rowe made the second of two free throws to start a 10-3 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Cooper Criswell, which helped the Trojans pull within two.
But Ware’s 3-pointer ignited a 16-4 run that carried over into midway through the third quarter, giving the Eagles a 14-point cushion, and Malik Sheppard’s 3-pointer at the buzzer left the Eagles with a 48-38 edge entering the fourth.
Stephon Jelks, who had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, opened the final period with a dunk and added the second of his two 3-pointers to give the Eagles a 15-point cushion.
Keyshawn Butts’ two free throws with 2:28 left in the game gave the Eagles’ their biggest lead of the contest — 60-43 — and North Cobb Christian managed to dribble out the final 2:08 following a layup from Carrollton’s K.J. Hill
“It takes a load off me as point guard when guys can come off the bench and contribute,” Ware said. “It’s like having more than one coach on the floor. Ball-handling and defense gets us wins.”
Butts had nine second-half points to go with three rebounds and two assists. Kendall Crute added seven points, three boards, three assists and two steals, while Trey Kalina had six rebounds. John Towne collected six rebounds and two assists for the Eagles, who made 14 of 17 free throws.
“The balance is there on our team,” North Cobb Christian coach Greg Matta said. “(On Friday), Jonathan Twine had 19 points, and (Saturday), it was Hunter with 29. When guys have the hot hand, we have enough experienced guys who know how to find him and get him the ball.”
Montae Green led Carrollton with 15 points, including 11 in the second quarter, and seven rebounds.